The Land List -- Battery FAQ

Questions About Batteries Used in Polaroid Cameras

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Here's a quick list of Polaroid cameras separated into categories to denote which battery type(s) they use. This may be of particular use for those of you who may have a classic Polaroid folding pack camera, as it's difficult to keep straight which battery type goes with which camera models.

What kind of batteries do I need?

Rollfilm Cameras and Flashguns:

None of the rollfilm models require a battery to power their shutters. Of the autoexposure models, only the Models 850 and 900 require a battery (one EPX13 or EPX625 mercury cell-- which, like all mercury batteries, is no longer available in the USA) for their metering system. [The 850/900 will still work in manual exposure mode without a battery.] The autoexposure system of the J66 and J33 cameras is self-powered by its selenium cell, but the built-in flashgun of either camera requires one 'AA' battery.

Here's what batteries are required by the Polaroid accessory flashguns for rollfilm cameras:

#200                           two 'C' cells
#201, #221                     one 412 (22.5 volt) battery
#202, #222, #240, #281         one 504 (15 volt) or 505 (22.5 volt) battery
#250, etc. "Wink Lights"       one 460 (45 volt) battery
Incidently, it appears that the 460 battery used by the Wink-Lights is no longer being made (thanks to Henry Cline for discovering this). However, if you're still really interested in using your Wink-Light, you could build a replacement battery pack out of five 9 volt rectangular batteries wired in series, though. Please see the Main FAQ for an important note about this.

Packfilm Cameras and Flashguns:

All autoexposure packfilm cameras require a battery to operate both the shutter and the metering system. [Well, OK, the oddball model 185 presumably doesn't require one for its shutter, but let's ignore that for now... :-) ]

The autoexposure packfilm cameras can be broken down into three categories according to battery type:

The 100, 101, 102, 220, 225, 230, 240, 250, and 340 use one No. 531 (4.5 volt) alkaline battery.

The 103, 104, 125, 135, 210, 215, 315, 320, 330, 420, 430, 440, M60, and Countdown 70 all use one No. 532 (3 volt) alkaline battery. The 335, 350, 360, 450, M80, and Countdown 90 use two No. 532 batteries, one of which is used for the built-in electronic development timer (and which can be omitted if the development timer feature isn't needed or desired).

All the rigid plastic cameras and 'new style' folding pack cameras use two standard 'AA' cells. ...Well, except for the ('fixed' exposure) Big Shot, which doesn't use batteries at all.

The No. 531 and 532 batteries used by the folding pack cameras are getting quite difficult to find, but Radio Shack has resumed offering a replacement for the No. 531 as a special order item. [It cross-references to a PX-19, and is available as Radio Shack catalog #960-0378 (price: $8.99 as of 2001)]. In addition, at least in the USA, if you contact Polaroid Customer Service at the 800-number printed on the film packaging, you can purchase these batteries directly from them at a cost of about $7 apiece.

Also, a visitor to this site has suggested as a source for both of these battery types. I see that they also have a number of other hard-to-find battery types of interest to vintage camera owners. [Note: I have no personal experience with as a customer, so this should not be taken as an endorsement of their products and/or services.]

A somewhat less expensive alternative is to build a battery pack out of readily-available 'N' or 'AAA' cells. 3-volt lithium cells are tempting substitutes for the 3-volt 532 batteries, but be especially careful if you plan to solder anything to them!
NOTE: DL123 cylindrical cells as used in many 35mm point-and-shoot cameras seem to work pretty well as replacements-- in fact, they're also exactly the same physical size as the No. 532 battery but without the snap terminals. On a similar note, if you're trying to replace a No. 531 battery, you might consider adapting a No. 523 battery as used as a clock/CMOS battery in a number of older personal computers (most notably the compact Apple Macintosh models up to the Mac Plus). The 523 has the same voltage and physical size as the 531, but lacks the snap terminals. However, be advised that the No. 523 isn't all that easy to find either, and costs about the same as a proper 531 replacement anyway.

One other thing: If your camera has the electronic development timer, you might be tempted to wire the two pairs of battery leads (one for the shutter and the one for the development timer) in parallel so that you can power both with just one 3 volt battery. Do not attempt this! Wiring both circuits together will create a partial short across the battery terminals.

As for the flashguns:

The common #268 flashgun uses one 'AA' cell, although the very earliest ones were supposed to use a No. 531 4.5v battery instead. The less-common #280 flashgun (for the model 180) uses two 'AAA' cells. The #490 Focused Flash gun for the 400-series cameras also uses two 'AAA' cells.

The ProFlash electronic flash for the ProPack camera requires four 'AA' cells.

SX-70/600/Spectra/Captiva Cameras:

These cameras are powered by batteries contained in their film packs, so you don't need to supply any additional power to get them to work. (simple, eh?) However, the Polatronic and Q-Light accessory electronic flashes for SX-70 cameras require four 'AA' cells.

Where do I find the battery compartment, anyway?

This is sometimes more of a puzzler than the previous question, actually. :-)

For the 850/900 rollfilm cameras, the mercury cell for the autoexposure system can be found behind a little metal flap on the back of the shutter housing. Just tuck a fingernail under the little tab and it'll tilt right out. See the illustration below.

850/900 battery compartment

The battery for the J66 and J33 built-in flashguns is tucked away near the base of the bellows. See where the wire for the flashgun goes? Follow it and you should be able to see where the battery is hiding.

The batteries for the various rollfilm accessory flashguns are pretty self-explanatory-- just remove the one or two visible screws, and you'll see the battery compartment.

For the 'classic' folding automatic packfilm cameras (except the Model 360), look at the back of the camera. See how the back hinges to load the film? Now look at the left side of the hinge, and you'll find that that side of the camera's back can be opened as well (look for a small indentation that you can hook your fingernail). An illustration is shown below.

classic folding pack camera battery compartment

What about the Model 360? That camera's batteries are hiding behind the hand grip nearest the flash shoe. Look for a small hole in the bottom of the hand grip-- stick a penpoint or similar object in there to release the battery cover. Here's an illustration.

360 battery compartment

The #268 flashgun has two screws on the bottom. Remove those and you'll have access to the battery holder.

For the #490 flashgun, look for the plastic screwhead inside the cavity where the Flashcube goes (look at the curved surface that would be behind the Flashcube). Using a small coin, turn the screwhead about 90 degrees counter-clockwise to unlock the back of the flashgun.

To change the batteries on the rigid plastic pack cameras (and the 'new-style' folding pack cameras), open the back of the camera. Look towards the shutter, and you'll see the two 'AA' cells-- one on the left and one on the right. There's a plastic tab which you can pull to lift out the battery compartment.

rigid plastic pack camera battery compartment

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Last updated 05/04/2001

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